An afternoon of property yesterday: Westfield Stratford followed by One New Change

There’s not much retail property development going on at the moment, but luckily two of the most significant schemes are five stops apart on the Central Line and yesterday I went for a look at both of them.

First Westfield Stratford which is rapidly taking shape ahead of its opening next September. It looks about as close to readiness a year before opening as Westfield London at White City did a week before, so there won’t be any last minute panic this time - indeed John Lewis and M&S already have access to their anchor stores to start fit out.

The scale of what is going on around Stratford - not just with Westfield but also the Olympic Stadium and pool and the athletes village - is truly mind-blowing and during the games, which admittedly only last a fortnight, the centre is going to be right in the thick of things. Stratford as an area is an unpromising location but it’s not hard now to see just how it’s going to be transformed.

It’s a big scheme and is taking some work to let, but the Aussie developer seems to have broken the back of it now and it’s somewhere retailers will want to be. It also helps that Westfield seems to have learnt from its experience at White City and has worked really hard on its relationships with retailers since then.

On to One New Change after that, Land Securities’ new development in the City which opened yesterday. At 220,000 sq ft of retail, it’s a lot smaller than Stratford but it’s in an area with amazingly high footfall of both office workers and tourists, and one which has been underserved by retail for a long time.

It’s brought a lot of new brands into the Square Mile like Topshop, H&M and Banana Republic, as well as a lot of restaurants which all had queues out of the door yesterday evening. Architecturally Land Securities has had to bend over backwards keen the planners happy due to its highly sensitive location right next to St Paul’s, but although it does still unmistakeably feel like a retail and leisure scheme in the lower floors of an office building, it works as a shopping location and should do well.

Land Securities has two big jobs on its hands there though. The first is to get shoppers - both tourists and trendy locals living on the City fringe - visiting at the weekends. The second is pulling the shoppers in to the Springfield and Women’Secret stores, the first fruits of Land Securities Brand Empire venture which is bringing overseas stores here. The shops look good, but the brands are unknown, and while I’m no lingerie expert, Women’Secret has a very continental, pastel look to it which I’m not sure will work in EC2. Time will tell.